First thing I learned from my students, who range in age from late 5th grade through high school, is they are somebody's little babies. I guess I always knew this in one sense, but I watched parents dropping off these kids and this year was spectacularly different for me. I am dropping my own baby off at Kindergarten on Monday and I am nearly overcome with panic about it. I love my little man more than worlds and worlds and worlds, yet I know that for him, adversity, challenges and even pain are the things that will forge him into strong steel and beautiful art. It is the stuff us parents want to keep our precious ones away from but it is the stuff that makes them who they are. I know this and yet I sit here typing in a cold sweat, pins and needles daggering me in the heart. Breathe, Jesse. . . . Breathe.
Anyway, I watched the parents of these big kiddos drop them off, feigning cool as cucumber, knowing inside they wanted to tackle their children with kisses and hugs and "I Love You's". And, teenagers being teenagers, most of them rolled out of the hugs in typical fashion, putting on the show that they could NOT WAIT to be rid of these old annoying feeblers. (We know they love us, parents, but it is all part of the dance they have to do during this age. And, again, I speak from experience, having the sweetest of all teenagers myself, who if he read this would die a thousand deaths. Good thing he could care less what his daddy is writing. hahaha! Sad but probably true.)
So, as these parents dropped their grown babies off I had one of those sunbeam moments. I was struck by just how precious all these students are. I knew it before but I had not gotten that quite as strongly. This time, my own baby going to school for the first time, I empathized both with the parents and the students and my understanding and compassion grew.
So, this year, I will be taking even better care of these very precious ones, whose parents love them just like I love my own tiny bear. And if I can get them to dive into the process of creating art, of appreciating beauty and form and line and understanding their own creative potential, my job will only be half done. The other half? Just love. Easy as that.